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 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 12:54 GMT
Davis downs Boro
Fulham 1-0 Middlesbrough

Sean Davis
A goal from Davis lifts Fulham to 15th place
Fulham pulled further away from the dreaded relegation zone with a deserved win over Middlesbrough.

Sean Davis capped an impressive display with a rasping strike which left Middlesbrough's defence dazed.

Boro's lack of confidence in front of goal consigned them to their eighth successive defeat on the road.

Fulham could not capitalise on their dominant display and kill off the game, but a valuable three points will provide comfort for Fulham boss Jean Tigana.

Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren's desperate bid for an away goal saw him make wholesale changes to his starting front line.

KEY MOMENTS
6 mins: Sava header goes wide
38 mins: Sean Davis strike beats Schwarzer 1-0
52 mins: Job piledriver saved
62 mins: Sava header rattles bar

Massimo Maccarone and Noel Whelan came in, but though plenty of long balls were pumped up to them, the duo were off-side more frequently than on-target.

It was Fulham who found their rhythm first as Sylvain Legwinski and Steed Malbranque fed Facundo Sava from the flanks.

The Argentine looked threatening when he connected with an outswinging cross from Bjarne Goldbaek, but his header flashed wide of Mark Schwarzer's post.

Promising Fulham midfielder Davis found himself being given plenty of space by Boro.

And the England Under-21 punished the visitors' lack of vigilance in the 39th minute.

An excellent through ball from Legwinski set Davis free to weave past Gareth Southgate and toe-poke the ball beyond Schwarzer, into the bottom right corner.

I've missed a few chances of late, so it was nice to see that one hit the back of the net

Fulham match-winner Sean Davis

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson was watching in the stands and Davis' cool finish will surely have enhanced his chances of a first senior call-up.

The arrival of heavy rain and Middlesbrough's Joseph-Desire Job opened up the game after the interval.

Job was a danger and his individual effort from the edge of the area in the 52nd minute was tipped over by Maik Taylor.

But Fulham were pressing forward in search of a second goal to give themselves some breathing space.

Sava's luck deserted him yet again as his header clattered the crossbar and Goldbaek's dipping long-range effort was palmed away by Schwarzer.

Middlesbrough made a desperate late push forward in search of that elusive away goal.

A powerful shot from Szilard Nemeth was saved by Taylor, who displayed safe hands again to deny Maccorone and Middlesbrough a share of the points.


Fulham: Taylor, Finnan, Brevett, Djetou, Goma, Goldbaek, Legwinski, Davis, Malbranque, Sava (Boa Morte 90), Marlet.
Subs Not Used: Herrera, Melville, Collins, Hammond.

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Queudrue, Southgate, Vidmar, Parnaby, Geremi, Wilson, Wilkshire (Job 45), Greening, Maccarone, Whelan (Nemeth 64).
Subs Not Used: Crossley, Boksic, Cooper.

Booked: Southgate.

Attendance: 14,253

Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Five Live's Steve Wilson
"Boro have a big problem away from home"
 Fulham's Bjarne Goldbaek
"We didn't take enough chances"
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